“A bewitching masterpiece.” New York Times
One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation that was never officially released theatrically, Belladonna of Sadness is the third (and last) of the adult-oriented Mushi Pro Animerama films, produced by the godfather of Japanese anime & manga Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (Astro Boy and Kimba The White Lion), and is adapted from French historian Jules Michelet‘s novel La Sorcière. The obvious and salient feature of this “extremely transgressive” erotica is the unique way in which it was animated, using a blend of still illustrations and full animation – in addition to its mind-blowing Japanese psych-rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh. Initially intended for ‘art house’ venues rather than a more general audience (like the first two Animerama films), Belladonna of Sadness comes across as, by far, the more sophisticated and successful production; its strikingly original visuals largely responsible for the film’s visceral impact that has been described as, “a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests… equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism. ” An experience to behold on the big screen, The Belladonna of Sadness unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that seem to bleed and twist together and into each other while telling the story of an innocent young woman, Jeanne (voiced by Aiko Nagayama) who is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, from Akira Kurosawa’s Ran) who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.
This intensely original work has been newly restored by Cinelicious Pics using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements – and includes over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative.
Thursday, July 21
Doors 9:00 pm | Movie 9:30 pm
Tickets $10 advance HERE | $12 door
*Groupons and passes OK!
*Must be 19+ w/ID for entry and bar service.
Belladonna of Sadness (Eiichi Yamamoto, 1973 / 93 min) After being banished from her village, a peasant woman makes a pact with the devil to gain magical ability. *Screens in Japanese with English subtitles.